Thursday, December 9, 2010

I love the Monkey’s Paw!

Monkey Paw Games are a relatively new online publisher, and despite only releasing about 12 games, I already love them. Their aim is simple: provide casual access to cool import games at a reasonable price. They are what I have hoped for, for the last 15 years.

I first heard of MPG about 6 months ago, with the claim they’d be bringing Japanese PS1 games to the US PSN. As most hardcore retro and import fans know, the Japanese PSN has hundreds of incredible PS1 games, whereas the US and UK equivalents have very few games, a lot of them crap. The US store has gotten better, but the UK one is still terrible. Japan gets Metal Slug, we get Winnie the Pooh.

So, like most hardcore gamers, when I got my PS3 I hooked myself up with a Hong Kong account which accepted my UK VISA credit card, and bled the store until they banned foreign credit cards. Then I went online and paid exorbitant prices for Japanese PSN cards, and made do with that. I quickly built up a large collection of games at usually a 100% mark up, due to swine on eBay charging double for Japanese cards.

At long last there’s a company to rectify this problem somewhat. Although the fine work that MPG is doing is a little too late for people like me who went and bought all this stuff already, it does allow those of you who haven’t yet tried importing, to dip your toes for only $6 a pop. I look forward with tremendous anticipation to what they intend to release in the future, since while they say they can’t acquire games from publishers such as Square (meaning no Einhander), there are literally hundreds of other games for them to bring out.

Their current release list includes:


Arc The Lad

Arc The Lad II & Arc Arena Bundle


Chou Aniki

Dezaemon Plus

Gaia Seed

Magical Drop F

Money Idol Exchange

Outlaws of the Lost Dynasty


Sonic Wings Special

Tall Unlimited

These are the types of games that HG1101 has always prided itself on covering. We’ve already cover Chou and Outlaws, plus in the next update there should be an updated version of the Gaia Seed article I put on the blog, with much more screens. I’m also currently working on a feature covering the entire Dezaemon series, and there’s other titles in that list which fellow writers have been working on for some time. So the fact that these are now available for cheap on PSN, and casually, is like a dream come true. (at least for the US, those of us in Europe still need foreign PSN cards, but at least US cards are cheaper on eBay than Japanese ones)

Which leads me on to a rant. MPG can do this. MPG has shown that they can release Japanese PS1 games, in Japanese, with Japanese manuals, and no English, and they can get it past Sony, and they can make enough of a profit after licensing to warrant their business model.

So here’s my question: why the fuck isn’t anyone else capable of doing this?

I’m looking at you Square. Why didn't Einhander come out two years ago? Why aren’t you releasing Einhander as an import? Why the hell is Europe stuck with PAL versions of Final Fantasy, with borders, and 50Hz slowdown, and all that crap, when a clearly more capable company is providing import titles from outside the market? Why haven’t other companies been releasing imports? Why is it that out of so many companies, only one company is willing to take my money? I mean, does Square, and Sony, and Capcom, and Konami, and all those others, do they not like my money? Is my money not good enough for them?

Why can’t I just give them my money in exchange for games – why won’t they let me do this? Why?

The fact that MPG has actually, physically done this, proves to me it’s not a Sony problem. It’s not about Sony saying No, you can’t do that. Because they have done it. Which means Sony said yes, you can do that. Are all you readers following my fairly simple childlike logic here? Because it seems a whole bunch of enormous, multi-global corporations aren’t capable of following such deliriously simple logic. The genie is out of the bottle now, and there really isn’t any excuse any publisher can give as to why they can’t be bothered to make easy money. Unless they just don’t like money.

It’s a Square problem. It’s a Konami problem. It's a publisher problem.

The problem is: they are all unmitigated idiots, with no desire for profit.

It’s not a complex mathematical equation motherfunsters. You provide the product, I provide the money, a little love making takes place, and WHAM BAM, everyone leaves satisfied with a grin on their face. It really is not that difficult to understand: give me the product, and take my money. No, really, I want the product, and I’m happy to give up this money, so why aren’t you making this work? MPG didn’t even develop these games, they’re just some middleman making it happen. Square on the other hand, developed their own games, and have offices in every country. Konami is the same. So if MPG can arrange for 10 import titles from various other companies, Square can damn well arrange for their own Einhander to come out.

So, while the rest of the world chooses to abandon basic capitalism, I’m going to be keeping an eye on MPG.

A further interesting note is that they’re publishing games previously published by Working Designs, which means they’re in the business of buying rights from defunct companies, which is even more exciting than imports. Because this means they can arrange for all manner of titles which were great, but the previous publisher is no longer capable of releasing on its own.

I’m going to be featuring a blog write-up on Dezaemon Plus in a couple of days, since I’ve been practicing with it, but for those curious there’s an English language guide on MPG’s website, which after you remove the superfluous stuff can be printed off on 6 pages. The game itself is pretty cool – it’s like an update to the SNES instalment. There’s about 8 or so pre-designed shmups on it, so if you don’t feel like designing you can just play (most were previous competition winners, so the quality is quite high). You can’t edit these competition winners, but it gives a good idea of what you can do. The available shooter that you can edit is based off the Daioh series I believe. As for the actual designing, it’s extremely versatile if you want to make a vertical shooter. I’m actually working on a hori shooter, since I’ve found a sort of workaround for this limitation.

The only snag with this is it doesn’t seem possible to use a mouse in PS1 mode, despite the PS3 recognising the mouse on the dashboard. If you know how to get a mouse working on PS1 games on the PS3, let me know!

Expect a full write up on the Dezaemon series in the new year.


  1. Yeah the UK PSN store is terrible. Do not understand why Japanese companys do not just bring out the American versions of their games that never reached Europe on UK psn store it not like they would play funny on a European PSP or need any extra work done to them.

    Some think it is to do with it costing to put games onto it. But if that is the case why are both Super Fruit Fall and Impossible Mission on it for Just PSP and a serperate Mini version that works for Both PSP/PS3. Even weirder is both the Mini versions are cheaper too.

    You can no longer buy some Konami ps1 games on PSN store either Track and Field and Bishi Bashi Special got removed. For some reason as well you can not get Crash Banicoot 2 on UK PSN store but 1 and 3 are on it.

    Sony need to get there act together with the PSN store badly. They could'nt even get Castle Crashers out on same day worldwide and the game had been Localised two years ago.

  2. Also worth mentioning that Victor Ireland was heavily involved in the re-releases of the Working Designs games, which I'm sure helped.

  3. To be honest, I find the entire PSN store to be somewhat of a clusterf***.

    First off, they stuff it everywhere on the XMB and make it the default selection in half the menus.

    Then, half the stuff in the store has no demos. Even things that have demos on XBL (which mandated demos...a wonderful idea).

    Atop that you have the horrible segregation between regions and inability to buy the same damn stuff in every territory. Why?

    The PSN is really just a mess. Which honestly kind of sums up a lot of the PS3 experience: A mess. It functions, barely.

    Case in point: I wanted to watch something on Netflix yesterday, so I was forced to update my PS3 firmware. Did the Netflix software update? No.

    So began the lengthy, lengthy PS3 update process. At which point it was too late to catch much of a film before bed.

    Really can't stand a lot of the issues surrounding the PS3, honestly...

  4. As much as I am an unashamed fan of the PS3 hardware (I love both it being region free and the controller - two things which bother me with the 360), I agree completely that Sony has no idea what it's doing with PSN.

    The Hong Kong store used to allow any credit card, and it was great. It I can use my UK credit card online for foreign stores like Himeya, then I should be able to for PSN. But then the HK store changed and stopped accepting foreign cards.

    Also, Sony has nothing equivalent to XB Indies. Which is a bit sad, since they were the company which created the Yaroze.

  5. The situation is just as bad in Australia (I guess we still get classified as Europe?) and quite possibly worse in some parts.
    A while ago I was thinking of purchasing Fate/Codes Unlimited (a digital only game for whatever reason) but was turned off by the $50 AUD (or around there) price tag. Looking around it seems the game recently went down in price permanently on the American PSN to $20 USD and it seems ridiculous that the Australian store users still have to pay more than twice that even though our dollar is pretty much worth the same as the USD. I'm used to buying physical copies of games at 20-30 bucks more at release but this is just silly.

    And the XB Indies section isn't even an option in Australia. Literally, it's not there, because apparently Indie games have to be submitted for rating in Australia, which costs a whole lot of money so they don't even bother.

  6. If I'm not mistaken, Switzerland still doesn't have XBL Indies, either.

    And the PSN has some weird shit going on, too, with some random (PS1-)games not coming out in Germany or Luxembourg (of all places!)

  7. What's even stranger is that I'm pretty sure that if I wanted to, I could deleted Track & Field off my drive, and redownload it.

    Probably. I'm not tempted to try it...